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"Then the angel showed me the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowing crystal-clear down the middle of the city street. On either side of the river were the trees of life, which bear twelve crops of food in a year, one in each month, and the leaves of which are the cure for the pagans."
The Holy Spirit has divided the River that flows from the throne of God into seven streams. This is what Isaiah meant when he said that God would
"stretch out his hand over the river and divide it into seven streams, for men to cross dry-shod, to make a pathway for the remnant of his people..." (Is.11:15).
"Look round about you, look, all are assembling, coming to you...your desolate places and your ruins and your devastated country will now be too small for all your inhabitants. " (Is.49:18).
These seven "streams" are the seven lampstands of Jesus, i.e., the seven churches according to the Book of Revelation.
"The secret of the seven stars you have seen in my right hand, and of the seven golden lampstands is this: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches themselves." (Rev.1:20).
The seven lampstands follow the design God specified to Moses (Ex.25:31-40), which ordered seven identical arms beaten out of the same piece of gold, and which Moses constructed of equal height. This shows that all churches in Jesus enjoy the same favor since each one has its own specific part of the darkness to illuminate. No one is better than the other. Nor is any individual Christian chosen by God better than another. Each church expands Christ's proclamation deeper into the world, so that the Lord's light can reach into every part of the darkness, allowing the Holy Spirit to search through the murkiest shadows of this world for the lost people of God, that they might hear His voice. In the spread of this preaching, God's Church has not grown haphazardly. The Holy Spirit has built it perfectly according to the divine plan.
"Then I saw another angel rising where the sun rises, carrying the seal of the living God; he called in a powerful voice to the four angels whose duty was to devastate land and sea, 'Wait before you do any damage on land or at sea or to the trees, until we have put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God'." (Rev.7:3).
"Then I heard how many were sealed: a hundred and forty-four thousand out of all the tribes of Israel." (Rev.7:4).
"In those days and at that time the sons of Israel will return: they will come weeping in search of the Lord their God. The will ask the way to Zion, their faces will turn in that direction. 'Come,' they will say 'let us bind ourselves to the Lord by an everlasting covenant never to be forgotten!' Lost sheep, such were my people; their shepherds led them astray... Escape out of Babylon...Go! See, I am raising a league of mighty nations against Babylon. They will come from the land of the North.... -Jer.50:4-8
The scattering represents the dispersion of Christianity throughout the world, and all the different churches that are spread throughout this scattering represent the seven churches spoken of by John in his vision. (Rv.1:2). For this reason, the whole framework of Christianity can be seen in metaphoric terms in the opening words of the Book of Revelation which is addressed to the seven churches of the dispersion in Asia.
Seven is a symbolic number which stands for infinity and fulfillment. It means 'completeness'. Therefore, John's words can be seen as addressed to the complete Church, which is composed of all of its numerous parts structured in diverse pieces as a result of the scattering into Babylon.
These seven churches are the seven pillars on which the kingdom of God sits: "Wisdom has built herself a house, she has erected her seven pillars..." (Prov.9:1).
The Book of Revelation, addressed to the 'seven churches' of Asia, describes them as "seven golden lampstands surrounded by the Son of Man." (Rev.1:4-20). These seven lampstands are like seven lighthouses that God has built to shine the light of Christ into the darkness of the world.
As we have shown above, the unity of these seven different lamps was made clear when Moses was instructed by the angel of God to design all seven exactly the same, down to the smallest detail, and all out of the same piece of gold. (Ex.37:17-22).
When Zechariah asked the angel what the lips at the top of the lampstand signified, he was told, "These seven are the eyes of God; they cover the whole world". (Zech.4:6).
During the tenancy of the Jews, the whole church was defined in one place and its authority vested in the Temple in Jerusalem. The scattering changed all that. Jesus vested the authority of Jerusalem. i.e., the authority of the Temple, in the heart of each believer.
The Book of Hebrews tells us that the sanctuary of God had two chambers in it (Heb.9:2). The outer chamber, called the "Holy Place" housed the lampstand, the place where the churches are now. They are holy but there is one place even holier than they. The inner chamber, called the "Holy of Holies" is where God, Himself dwelled: inside or on top of the Ark of the Covenant.
According to the Book of Hebrews, Jesus, who dwelled there with God, has placed that inner chamber into the soul of each true believer. He has made us the new Ark of the Covenant. That is why scripture tells us that we are to have no thought of the old Ark:
"In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land," declares the Lord, "men will no longer say, 'The ark of the covenant of the Lord.' It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made." Jer. 3:16
Thus each Christian carries Jesus and God with them at all times. That is why all Christians are high priests (Heb.9:1-28), i.e., because the Holy of Holies is within us. It is also why our bodies are now known to be the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.6:19).
The sacrifices we offer to God are those of justice, mercy and good faith. That accounts for the second inscription on God's foundation stone: "All who call on the name of the Lord must avoid sin." (2 Timothy 2:19). "For all the truth about us will be brought out in the law court of Christ, and each of us will get what he deserves for the things he did in the body, good or bad." (2 Cor.5:10).
The Temple, now dwelling in people's hearts, goes wherever there is faith in Jesus.
Because God scattered those believers to the farthest ends of earth in the exile to Babylon, the servants of God must go out to the whole world to search for them and proclaim the Gospel in their hearting. Thus the symbolism of the lips at the top of the lampstand-the eyes of God-which signify that God has created the seven churches to go out all through the scattering and find and bring back every person who belongs to God no matter where they might be hidden.
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See Also: 'The Clock of God", Chapter 15, 'The Seven Churches'
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